Saturday, May 29, 2010

From Hero to Un-Person

If you're looking for a role model to teach your children that good citizenship means protest and dissent rather than obedience; that one person can make a difference, and that you don't have to be born white, male or middle-class to become a genuine hero, you'd be hard put to find a better one than Dolores Huerta.

American history books used to hold her up to third graders as an example of good citizenship, but no more.

In 1988, when she was 58 years old and already a national treasure, she was demonstrating peacefully against the platform of George H.W. Bush when she attacked and severely beaten, nearly to death by out of control San Francisco policemen who gave the 58 year old women several broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. This week another kind of violence was perpetrated against Dolores. People For The American Way alerted their community about it:

The Texas State Board of Education voted to adopt new curriculum standards, which uses the state’s education system to push a conservative political agenda. Among the changes the board agreed to were resolutions adding the study of Right Wing movements to the curriculum, and pushing strongly conservative viewpoints on issues ranging from the United Nations to Social Security and Medicare benefits.

In a 6-9 vote, the Board rejected a proposal to restore labor and civil rights leader and People For the American Way board member Dolores Huerta to the elementary school curriculum. Huerta was previously taught as an example of good citizenship in third grade history classes, but was removed from the curriculum in January.

Michael B. Keegan, President of People For the American Way, issued the following statement:

“The Texas Board of Education’s decision to remove Dolores Huerta from the state’s curriculum standards, while adding divisive Right Wing figures such as Newt Gingrich and Phyllis Schlafly is an insult to the millions of Americans whose lives Huerta has improved, and detrimental to the education of children in Texas and throughout the United States.

“The state’s previous curriculum included Huerta because she has played an important role in our nation’s history. Erasing her from the curriculum not only denigrates her work; it belittles the invaluable contributions of generations of minority activists. That’s unacceptable and a disservice to Texas students.

“Dolores Huerta is a hero for all Americans who value a fair and just society and she shouldn’t be removed from our history. In her decades of work as a labor organizer and civil rights leader, she has helped millions of workers gain a voice at the bargaining table in order to earn fair wages; she has worked to ensure that people of all races and ethnicities are treated equally under the law; and she has been a role model for women in leadership.

“The removal of an important figure like Dolores Huerta from the Social Studies curriculum is emblematic of the School Board’s decision to force politics into the classroom.”

1 comment:

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Really sad yet important post! ty.